It’s been nearly a year since Juan Guaido, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, stepped forward to declare himself interim president of his country. The occupant of the Presidential palace, Nicolas Maduro was none too pleased, but his position was apparently too tenuous to move directly against Guaido at that time. Guaido would go on to lead massive demonstrations in the streets that stretched on for months. He was recognized as the legitimate leader of Venezuela by nearly 60 nations, including the United States.

But time has dragged on and Maduro still remains. His personally selected legislators and judges still serve as the law of the land, such as it is. He’s attracted the support of both Russia and Turkey, in financial and military terms. So what is to become of Juan Guaido? He seems to be fading from the scene, and now Maduro is moving against some of the legislators who openly support him. (WaPo)

“I think we underestimated the dictatorship and the harm it is willing to do,” Guaidó told The Post. “We have to improve our relationship with the armed forces.”

Maduro has managed to withstand tough U.S. sanctions — including an embargo on Venezuelan oil, the lifeblood of its economy — by running gold and gems from the mineral-rich south to Turkey and Russia in exchange for cash. Russia and, to a lesser extent, China remain solid benefactors.

U.S. officials held high-level meetings last week to reassess their approach on Venezuela and consider more provocative steps. U.S. officials this month identified six state-owned vessels they said were shipping oil to Cuba — and are weighing a blockade to prevent them from reaching the island…

Yet some Guiadó supporters blame him for a U.S. policy they believe has failed. U.S. economic sanctions, some argue, are hurting an economy already on life support. Others complain that President Trump raised their hopes by threatening U.S. military action that now appears to have always been a bluff.

That’s a long report to wade through, but little of the news is good. Maduro has been bribing some of Guaido’s most prominent supporters to abandon him and in too many cases it’s worked. The Venezuelan media has been circulating stories about corruption among Guaido’s associates and even some of his family members. His approval ratings, once near 70%, are now in the low to mid-forties.

In short, even his most ardent followers are exhausted and running out of hope. Many of them claim they were led to believe that the United States was going to conduct a military intervention of some sort to remove Maduro, but when that didn’t happen they felt betrayed. Some blame Donald Trump, but many accuse Guaido of making promises he knew he couldn’t deliver on.

Time may be growing short for the opposition. Elections are coming up and Maduro has reportedly been busy bribing members of Guaido’s party in the National Assembly and undermining his support. If he loses the election and is no longer the leader of the legislative body, he also loses his only constitutional claim to declare himself interim president. That could very well be the end of his dream and that of so many of his supporters.

This is shaping up to be a very sad outcome for the starving people of Venezuela who placed their hopes in him. But Maduro has proven to be extremely resilient and quite crafty in his ability to forge alliances with foreign powers like Russia and China. The country may be crumbling, but at least for now, Nicolas Maduro is hanging on to power and possibly even strengthening his grip.